Down the Security Rabbithole Podcast #DtSR with Los and Tuma talking all things #cybersecurity

DtSR ImageThis week’s #DtSR Podcast featured Raf Los and guest Shawn Tuma talking about all things cybersecurity. Check out more of what was covered and listen to the podcast here!

Check out some of the past episodes with Tuma as a guest.


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Shawn Tuma (@shawnetuma) is an attorney with an internationally recognized reputation in cybersecurity, computer fraud, and data privacy law. He is a Cybersecurity & Data Privacy Attorney at Scheef & Stone, LLP, a full-service commercial law firm in Texas that represents businesses of all sizes throughout the United States and, through its Mackrell International network, around the world.

Security Weekly guest Shawn Tuma discusses “what is reasonable cybersecurity?”

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Shawn Tuma (@shawnetuma) is an attorney with an internationally recognized reputation in cybersecurity, computer fraud, and data privacy law. He is a Cybersecurity & Data Privacy Attorney at Scheef & Stone, LLP, a full-service commercial law firm in Texas that represents businesses of all sizes throughout the United States and, through its Mackrell International network, around the world.

What is “reasonable cybersecurity” and how do courts view it? (SecureWorld interviews)

What is “reasonable cybersecurity” and how do courts view “reasonable cybersecurity”?

See KnowB4’s discussion of these interviews

These are two excellent questions that I was asked and I answered, as succinctly as I could, in two short interviews with SecureWorld. Tell me what you think about my answers.

What Is Reasonable Cybersecurity? – SecureWorld article

How Courts & Attorneys View ‘Reasonable Cybersecurity’ in 2018 – SecureWorld article

Here are the videos.



Shawn Tuma (@shawnetuma) is an attorney with an internationally recognized reputation in cybersecurity, computer fraud, and data privacy law. He is a Cybersecurity & Data Privacy Attorney at Scheef & Stone, LLP, a full-service commercial law firm in Texas that represents businesses of all sizes throughout the United States and, through its Mackrell International network, around the world.

Uber CISO’s Testimony Clarifies Payment to Hackers was Not Legitimate Use of Bug Bounty Program

As bits of information about the Uber data breach have trickled out, including the purported payment through a bug bounty program, I have been concerned about the implications on legitimate corporate bug bounty programs. My concerns grew when I read the New York Times article, Inside Uber’s $100,000 Payment to a Hacker, and the Fallout

The February 6, 2018, testimony by John Flynn, Uber’s Chief Information Security Officer, makes me feel better because it finally made clear (to me, anyway) that this was not a legitimate bug bounty program situation (see full written testimony):

As you know, Uber paid the intruders $100,000 through HackerOne and our bug bounty program. Our primary goal in paying the intruders was to protect our consumers’ data. This was not done in a way that is consistent with the way our bounty program normally operates, however. In my view, the key distinction regarding this incident is that the intruders not only found a weakness, they also exploited the vulnerability in a malicious fashion to access and download data.


We recognize that the bug bounty program is not an appropriate vehicle for dealing with intruders who seek to extort funds from the company. The approach that these intruders took was separate and distinct from those of the researchers in the security community for whom bug bounty programs are designed. While the use of the bug bounty program assisted in the effort to gain attribution and, ultimately, assurances that our users’ data were secure, at the end of the day, these intruders were fundamentally different from legitimate bug bounty recipients.

When dealing with something like this, in the world of data breach reporting and notification, details, motive, and the order of events matter. It appears that Uber attempted to take an existing incident (that was likely a data breach requiring reporting and notification) and mitigate it by running it through its bug bounty program in an effort to de-breach it, so to speak. While this was a creative approach and one that could raise issues about other mitigation efforts that companies may try for dealing with incidents, such discussions are beyond the scope of this post.

What is important, to me anyway, is that this was not a legitimate use of Uber’s bug bounty program that is now being second-guessed. I think that should help corporate security and legal professionals sleep a little better.

In Flynn’s testimony, he does an excellent job of explaining bug bounty programs and, specifically, Uber’s bug bounty program and the success it has had since implementation. He also explains Uber’s incident response process in this particular situation and offers insight into just how quickly an IR team must act — something everyone should understand. I strongly encourage anyone interested to read his full testimony.

See Uber: ‘No justification’ for covering up data breach


Shawn Tuma (@shawnetuma) is an attorney with an internationally recognized reputation in cybersecurity, computer fraud, and data privacy law. He is a Cybersecurity & Data Privacy Attorney at Scheef & Stone, LLP, a full-service commercial law firm in Texas that represents businesses of all sizes throughout the United States and, through its Mackrell International network, around the world.

3 Legal Points for InfoSec Teams to Consider Before an Incident

secureworldAs a teaser to my presentation at SecureWorld – Dallas last week, I did a brief interview with SecureWorld and talked about three of the points I would make in my lunch keynote, The Legal Case for Cybersecurity. If you’re going to SecureWorld – Denver next week, join me for the lunch keynote on Thursday (11/2) as I will again be making The Legal Case for Cybersecurity.

In the SecureWorld article, Why InfoSec Teams Need to Think with a ‘Legal’ Mind, Before an Incident, we discuss these three points:

  1. There are three general types of “cyber laws” that infosec needs to understand;
  2. Sadly, far too many companies do not take cybersecurity seriously until after they have had a significant incident; and
  3. Companies’ need for implementing and continuously maturing a cyber risk management program (such as my CyberGard).


What do we in the United States really want from our cyber laws?

In my newsfeed are articles in prominent publications discussing the problems with the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act from very different perspectives.

www.businesscyberrisk.comIn the “the CFAA is dangerous for security researchers” corner we have White Hat Hackers and the Internet of Bodies, in Law360, discussing how precarious the CFAA (and presumably, the state hacking laws such as Texas’ Breach of Computer Security / Harmful Access by Computer laws) and Digital Millenium Copyright Act can be for security researchers.

In the “the CFAA prevents companies from defending themselves” corner we have New Bill Would Allow Hacking Victims to ‘Hack Back’, in The Hill, discussing The Active Cyber Defense Certainty Act (ACDC). ACDC (what a great acronym!) would allow companies more latitude in defending themselves against those intruding into their networks by permitting them to use techniques described as “active defense,” under certain conditions, though not permitting companies to counterattack.

Now, instead of thinking about these two measures in isolation, think of them together. What if we were to get both of them passed into law? What if we got one or the other?

This reminds me of a piece I wrote about the CFAA and the broader national policy discussion a few years ago, Hunter Moore or Aaron Swartz: Do we hate the CFAA? Do we love the CFAA? Do we even have a clue? In that piece I stated,

The CFAA has become a national lightening rod with many loving it, many hating it, and far too many loving it and hating it at the same time, without even realizing it. Before we go any further, however, consider this quote:

The CFAA was tailor-made to punish precisely the kind of behavior that [guess who?] is charged with: breaking into other people’s accounts and disseminating their … information.

Quick! Who is that referring to? Hunter Moore? Edward Snowden? Aaron Swartz? Sandra Teague?

I used this overly simplified example to try and make a point that, philosophically, we as a nation need to stop looking at each of these cases and laws in isolation and need to look at the bigger picture of how it all fits together. Picking and choosing based upon our own personal likes and dislikes due to the emotional tug of the facts is no way to develop, maintain, and mature a body of law on any subject matter — much less one as complicated as cyber.

Take this discussion and add into the mix new security-based laws such as NYDFS and then mix in the 48 states + HIPAA, GLBA, etc. breach notification laws, the conundrum of cybersecurity law schizophrenia, and then see what we have to work with. Does it all make sense?

What do you think? Where do we begin? Who needs to be involved in working this out? What are the first questions we need to ask?

NIST Cybersecurity Guidance for Small Business Likely Forthcoming

The US House of Representatives has passed legislation similar to that recently passed by the Senate that would require the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to produce cybersecurity guidance that will be aimed at helping small businesses. The NIST Small Business Cybersecurity Act of 2017 would include NIST’s creating guidelines, tools, and best practices to help smaller businesses reduce their cybersecurity risk.

The companion legislation passed by the Senate is the Making Available Information Now to Strengthen Trust and Resilience and Enhance Enterprise Technology Cybersecurity Act of 2017.

Musings about the Equifax Data Breach

Musings and stuff about the

This is intended to be an old-fashioned “blog” about thoughts on the Equifax data breach. It will be ongoing so please check back regularly.



Media interviews and commentary

We are seeing shame hacking taken to a new level

(9/15/17) I have written a good bit about shame hacking and how hackers’ efforts to monetize their activities have evolved to their using shame, or embarrassment, as a tool to extort payments from their targets. This case seems to be taking it to a new level. For the last two days we have all seen the news about how Equifax’s failure to patch was the cause of the breach. Today, it got worse.

Now, apparently, the hackers are trying to play the role of “good guys” by telling the secrets of how they hacked Equifax, how easy it was, and just how negligent Equifax was in defending its network. Check out this story (which seems to be legit):  How Equifax got Hacked

Stop and think about this for a moment:

  • The hackers — the criminals who attacked Equifax and stole data from at least hundreds of thousands of people to potentially hundreds of millions of people — are now coming out and shaming Equifax for allowing them to do what they did.
  • Now I understand, with these revelations about its security practices, it is hard to feel sorry for Equifax and view it as the victim, and I’m not suggesting that we should. But let’s also not forget that Equifax was the company that was attacked — and now the attackers are the ones telling all to shame the company they attacked. We must keep this in perspective.
  • The problem is, we will not keep it in perspective and we as part of the masses will all start to dog pile Equifax even more for the juicy scoop that the hackers are revealing about the company they attacked and the hackers are stoking the flames: “if I have to release the information and make it public for these companies to finally acknowledge and admit their fuck ups (maybe not blame on apache flaw either) then I will” the hackers
  • I am all for learning any lessons that we can from this attack, even if from the hackers themselves, and I am all for really letting Equifax have it for what they did, but the one thing I am not for is making these hackers out to be heroes in the end. As ridiculous as this may seem, now on 9/15/17, it would not be unprecedented … please, please, please, do not make these guys out to be heroes because they are not. They are criminals.

This is taking shame hacking to a new level. This kind of taunting would get a college or NFL football player ejected from a game — and we the people will enjoy every bit of it!

Stay tuned, this is getting interesting …

Will I lead a consumer class action lawsuit against Equifax?

I have received more inquiries from people via calls, emails, and social media posts who are interested in pursuing a class action lawsuit against Equifax than I have following every other breach combined, by at least double or triple the numbers! However, while it is clear that people want their pound of flesh, it will not be me leading the charge.

Lawsuits and investigations against Equifax

Well-respected data breach class action attorney John Yanchunis has already filed one class action lawsuit and it would not surprise me to see another well-respected data breach class action firm Edelson PC bring one as well. You can also learn more about class action lawsuits that are filed at the Top Class Actions website.

My thoughts on the “chatbot” suing Equifax are in included in this article: Equifax’s Latest Legal Nightmare Might Be This Chatbot

The FTC has launched an investigation into the Equifax data breach.

Massachusettes’s attorney general said it will sue Equifax over the data breach.

What to do if you’re impacted by the Equifax data breach?

I doubt I could do a better job of giving you advice on this than the Federal Trade Commission can so check out their Consumer Information page that explains what to do and how to do it: The Equifax Data Breach: What to Do

One of the issues that has caused some confusion is the difference between a fraud alert and a credit freeze, which the FTC has also addressed: Fraud alerts vs. credit freezes: FTC FAQs

Here is the Equifax official page if you need it:

Given that data breaches are the new normal, I see no reason why we shouldn’t all have some form of credit monitoring as one more level of protecting ourselves. While Equifax is offering a year of free credit monitoring using its service, if you’re reluctant to sign up for Equifax’s free credit monitoring, you should sign up for somebody’s even if it means paying for it. My friend Todd Hindman works for ID Experts and they have a top-notch product:

Here are some general talking points I used for a couple of media interviews on this (much of this came directly from the FTC website):


If you sign up for Equifax’s free credit monitoring, do you lose your right to sue?

No, you do not.

Equifax issued an official statement saying that you do not give up your right to sue if you sign up for its free credit monitoring:  Cybersecurity Incident & Important Consumer Information – Equifax:

[This week’s update]
Questions continue to be raised about the arbitration clause and class action waiver language that was originally in the terms of use for the free credit file monitoring and identity theft protection products that we are offering called TrustedID Premier. We have removed that language from the TrustedID Premier Terms of Use and it will not apply to the free products offered in response to the cybersecurity incident or for claims related to the cybersecurity incident itself. The arbitration language will not apply to any consumer who signed up before the language was removed.

[Last week’s update]

We’ve added an FAQ to our website to confirm that enrolling in the free credit file monitoring and identity theft protection that we are offering as part of this cybersecurity incident does not waive any rights to take legal action. We removed that language from the Terms of Use on the website, The Terms of Use on do not apply to the TrustedID Premier product being offered to consumers as a result of the cybersecurity incident.

What caused the Equifax data breach?

The Apache Foundation which oversees the use of open source software issued a statement alleging the breach was caused by Equifax’s failure to install a patch, or security update, that had been available for a couple of months: “The Equifax data compromise was due to (Equifax’s) failure to install the security updates provided in a timely manner”

Now it appears that Equifax was also using the uber challenging authentication credentials of “admin/admin” to protect data in Argentina

What’s more important than the 3 things below? Prevention — as stated here!

3 Things Worth Learning from the Equifax Breach

The SecureWorld News Team talked with me about many of the lessons that can be learned from the Equifax data breach and winnowed it down to the following 3 takeaways that are discussed more thoroughly in the article:

  1. We need a uniform national breach notification law in the United States.
  2. When it comes to data breach response, “[i]t’s not about what you do right, as much as what you do not do wrong.”
  3. A mega breach keeps going, and going, and going.

Please take a look at the full article, 3 Things Worth Learning from the Equifax Breach, and let the SecureWorld News Team know what you think on TwitterFacebookLinkedIn, and Google+

Will Equifax be the “tipping point” for companies to take action on cybersecurity, much the way Target was the “tipping point” for awareness?

My friend Roberta Anderson and I had a conversation on Facebook in which she shared an article she wrote back in April 2014 (Business Forum: Target security breach could be a wake-up call) about the Target data breach being the tipping point for raising awareness about the need for cybersecurity and the risks of data breach. Her question to me was whether I thought Equifax would be another such tipping point. Here is the link to the Facebook post if you want to join the conversation.

Here is my response, also in the post above:

Roberta, that is an excellent article and some excellent questions you raise about Equifax. I recall back in 2011 hearing that year was the “Year of the Data Breach” because we thought, at the time, that with news of *some* data breaches making their way into the traditional news headlines it would be enough to jolt business leaders to start taking action. It wasn’t. As you predicted back in April 2014, it was going to be Target that really turned out to be the “tipping point” and I firmly believe that it was quite a watershed moment in the world of cybersecurity and data breach insofar as raising awareness is concerned. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough. It wasn’t enough to move from mainstream awareness to mainstream action.

Now to the question of Equifax — will it be the “tipping point” that moves the needle from awareness to action? It very well could be for several reasons. First and foremost, people are pissed — really pissed — about a company that has made it’s business off of judging them and their “worthiness” now not only showing its unworthiness but also doing so at the expense of the people it has been judging — without their consent! In the world of perception and persuasion, that’s a horrible fact. I have seen this first hand — I have received two to three times more telephone calls, emails, texts, and social media messages asking me to bring a class action lawsuit against Equifax in less than a week than I have in the wake of every other data breach combined — COMBINED! People want their pound of flesh! Add to that the actions of the executives in selling their stock, post-breach (whether they knew or not), the perceived delay in notifying, and the extreme sensitivity of the data involved and you have the makings of a nuclear bomb of breach consequences which are already forming with the lawsuits, extended publicity, and congressional inquiries. But, will that be enough to move the needle to action? I don’t know … will their stock rebound? Will the congressional inquiry go the way of Yahoo’s CEO (who also received letters of inquiry from Congress)? Will the insurance cover much of the sting? Will the execs lose their jobs — without golden parachutes that provide them with better landings than most of us will ever have in our lives? Or, will somebody go to jail and, if so, under what theory?

Effective cybersecurity is hard and requires a commitment to a perpetual journey that has no final destination. That’s not a journey that most companies will truly commit to unless they are forced to do so — even if they *should*. Unless someone really pays the price for this Equifax incident, in a grand and public manner for all of the world to see (no, I’m not suggesting a public hangings — but something that will leave the imagery in the public’s mind the way those once did — like the Ford Pinto case), I just don’t know.

Will Equifax get hit for this data breach like Ford did for its “bean counting” in the Pinto case?

I wrote this post back in 2011 and we’re still waiting for the “message” to sent — will this be it? Data Breach — Who’s Gonna Get It?

Random Info


Shawn Tuma (@shawnetuma) is an attorney with an internationally recognized reputation in cybersecurity, computer fraud, and data privacy law. He is a Cybersecurity & Data Privacy Attorney at Scheef & Stone, LLP, a full-service commercial law firm in Texas that represents businesses of all sizes throughout the United States and, through its Mackrell International network, around the world.

IoT Cybersecurity Improvement Act of 2017 proposed by Senate Cybersecurity Caucus

On August 1, 2017, the Senate Cybersecurity Caucus introduced the “Internet of Things (IoT) Cybersecurity Improvement Act of 2017,” bi-partisan legislation focused on establishing minimum security requirements for the federal procurement of Internet connected devices (#IoT). Continue reading “IoT Cybersecurity Improvement Act of 2017 proposed by Senate Cybersecurity Caucus”

Cybersecurity Legal Issues: What you really need to know (slides)

Shawn Tuma delivered the presentation Cybersecurity Legal Issues: What you really need to know at a Cybersecurity Summit sponsored by the Tarleton State University School of Criminology, Criminal Justice, and Strategic Studies’ Institute for Homeland Security, Cybercrime and International Criminal Justice. The presentation was on September 13, 2016 at the George Bush Institue. The following are the slides from Tuma’s presentation — a video of the presentation will be posted soon!

Continue reading “Cybersecurity Legal Issues: What you really need to know (slides)”